Companies identify ways to get dealers in the door and interested in products during an extremely slow period at retail
LAS VEGAS — Case goods and upholstery resources kicked off their first major market of the year with a mix of new and existing products that dealers can get in the coming weeks and months both from their warehouses and shipped direct following Chinese New Year.
Even more important they are creating opportunities to spark business during a prolonged retail slowdown that many are hoping turns the corner soon.
For some, the strategy meant offering an aggressive selection of new products across all categories but with the mix focused on sharp, entry-level price points.
“We didn’t focus on the upper-end product this market,” said Crystal Nguyen, vice president of merchandise and strategic product planning at Coaster Fine Furniture. Instead, most of its introductions fall within promotional to medium price points designed with more youthful looks and in some cases smaller scaling.
Its launch here includes 40 new stationary and motion upholstery groups and 35 new dining sets ranging from smaller-scale groups to larger sets that can seat eight to 10 comfortably. It also has six new bedrooms retailing from $1,499 to $2,399.
The showroom also highlighted the depth and breadth of the line, showcasing various new yet familiar styles across different price points with pops of color, mixed media and plenty of accents included to complete the look.
“We translate trends so they are familiar and comfortable,” Nguyen said.
Powell / Linon showcased a mix of new and existing products that included new categories such as motion seating, one segment of the business the company has developed since the availability of product it purchased at a discount following the November 2022 bankruptcy of United Furniture and Lane.
“We turned in solid numbers last year,” said CEO Jim Ziozis. “What helped us is that we made some opportunity purchases that allowed us to expand various categories.”
He added that 75% of the SKUs it purchased remain active in the line. “We are continuing with those bestsellers in our showroom.”
At this market, some of that mix is seen in dining and motion seating, categories featuring products with sharp price points including lift chairs that retail at $499 and table and four chair sets targeted to retail at $749.
“Everybody is very value-focused,” Ziozis added. “If you aren’t screaming value, nothing is selling.”
At upholstery and case goods resource Porter Designs, about one-third of the showroom features new, first-time-seen product, mostly in upholstery. The company is also offering aggressive promotions and discounts across the board, on both in-stock and soon-to-arrive goods.
“Sharp price points are the winner,” said Julie Grant, creative director.
President David Weiss said that it was too early in the show to gauge the success of various products. However, he noted that the company is already seeing some positive response.
“We think people will be cautious with their open to buy,” he said, adding, “For the first time since Covid, we are seeing people get excited about seeing new things.”
Case goods and upholstery resource Vilo Home also showcased new looks many buyers were seeing for the first time as the company has not shown at the market since the summer of 2022.
Its mix includes six new casual dining sets, nine new smaller-scale five-, six- and seven-pack dining sets and 10 new TV stands, some of which include fireplace inserts. Five-pack dining sets are aggressively priced at $349 retail and everyday casual dining sets are targeted to retail as low as $699 for a table and four chairs and $799 for a table and six. Three new upholstery groups also featured sectionals targeted to retail from $1,599 to $1,799.
It was offering some aggressive promotions of its own, including 50% off on floor samples. But that is just part of the strategy for a strong market overall. In addition to the mix of new product, Vilo said the entire line is available in its California warehouse, meaning that buyers can order product at market and receive it quickly. It also is offering a mixed container program that can ship multiple groups on a container.
“So buyers can purchase direct and out of the warehouse,” said Robert Sala, president. “We are confident that we can provide good service.”
Legends Furniture also touted its mixing capabilities out of Vietnam with a display at the front of its showroom featuring home office, bedroom, dining room and upholstery. Launched this past July, Mixology is catered toward smaller dealers and independents that can’t order full containers of one bedroom or upholstery group, for example.
And in addition to other inline goods across categories, the company also showed a new category of electric fireplace consoles and mantels that feature heating units. Shown in a separate dedicated space from its main showroom on the sixth floor of Building A, they are getting interest from dealers who like their style and functionality.
Flexsteel also is showing a wide mix of products across various categories ranging from upholstery to case goods and outdoor furniture.
While the company is not having to offer aggressive discounts to move the needle on sales, it has shifted some of its mix to what’s selling and what offers the most perceived value among dealers.
“We are making sure we are in that sweet spot,” said Tim Newlin, vice president of strategic business development. “That doesn’t mean the lowest — it just means a competitive price at the right value for the consumer. … For us, it would be entry-level Flexsteel, or the beginning price of the upper middle.”
Armen Living is showing 17 new dining sets featuring indoor and outdoor looks along with about the same number of new outdoor bar stools and 15 new indoor bar stools. Tables feature mixed media elements such as stone tops and bases offered in various finishes, ranging from matte black to natural wood looks.
The company is banking on a strong market because of its mix of product. It also continues to grow its dealer base with some 25 new accounts added in the past 12 months.
“I feel dealers are looking for something on their floor that will spark attention,” said Lee Honigsfeld, executive vice president. “We are trying to bring in some great looks that will have people saying ‘this looks new and different.'”
Hooker Furnishings is once again making a statement at market not only with the core case goods and upholstery brands it has shown previously here, but also with the addition of its Bobo Intriguing Objects line along with its Pulaski, SLF and Drew & Jonathan Home lines along with sister motion upholstery line Prime Resources International.
While most of the product at the showrooms has been seen previously in High Point, most of it is being seen for the first time, particularly by West Coast dealers who don’t go to High Point. It was also the first time that many had seen the Pulaski and SLF lines in Las Vegas in years as the companies just returned this market.
Page Wilson, president of Pulaski, SLF and PRI, said that the companies were seeing good traffic early in the show, an indication that many buyers were eager to see the brands they hadn’t seen in some time.
Hooker Furnishings, which showcased products in its Hooker case goods and upholstery brands — Hooker Furniture, Bradington-Young, HF Custom, M and Bobo — also was busy over the weekend start of the market.
Company Director of Public Relations Kristin Hawkins said that the design of the space reflects a curated look that “really shows how the products work together. That is the way that consumers shop. It allows the buyer to see how they can position their retail space to show all the brands.”
Added Matt Cowan, executive vice president of Hooker Legacy Brands, “We are getting people who are saying ‘I want to create this look.’ It is creating inspiration for those who want to re-create this in their store.”
The addition of the Bobo accents, he noted, helps complete the total home look, while showstoppers like the Barefoot five-seat modular sectional and ottoman grabs buyers’ attention as it’s positioned right at the front of the space.
“If we have window shoppers, it draws them in,” he said.
He noted that last January the company saw more than 2,000 accounts and that it expects to see as many this time around.
While he said business is still tough, spirits are good.
“We are still seeing people that are trying to find things to make it happen,” he said, adding that while it is offering some market promotions and specials to designers and brick-and-mortar dealers, it is not much out of the ordinary. “If you make it compelling in the showroom, the conversation starts. But you have to get them in the door.”